Top 100 Games of All-Time: #51

Super Mario Bros. 3

Release Date: October 23, 1988

Platform Played On: NES

2018 Placement: #39 (-12)


What It Is:

The third(fourth?) game in the Mario Bros. series. One of the classic, genre-defining platformers on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. From warp whistles to tanooki suits, from ducking on the white block to P-Wings enabling you to fly through hard levels, this game has a long, established legacy in the video game world.

After the single-player only Mario Bros 2, this game brought back multiplayer and allowed both players to explore the overworld. It added an item storage system as well, allowing you to store power-ups like raccoon leaves and hammer bro suits and use them when you needed a boost with a level. Toad Houses gave you random power-ups from chests and this game also introduced some of the best Mario characters ever: that’s right, the Koopalings. All hail Lemmy Koopa!

Why It’s Important To Me:

Super Mario Bros. 3 always had the forbidden fruit quality to me as a kid. I didn’t own the actual game myself (until I got Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES), only the first and second games. So whenever I got to play 3 it felt like a treat and a new world opening up in my eyes. I loved the overworld aspect of the game and how enemies would move around on the map. The fortress and airship levels were so cool and the theme of each world was even cooler.

It was the defining platformer for me growing up – I always considered it my favorite mainline Mario game for a long time. There was just something about the simplistic sprite work that drove me into nostalgia overdrive. And when I think long enough, I can even conjure up a distinct smell and memory of my grandfather’s old store, where we used to visit whenever I saw my extended family. My cousin had SMB3 and when I brought my Nintendo on Christmas vacations I would always be eager to borrow the game and get as far as I could while I was on vacation.

My Strongest Memory:

I fucking loved the Hammer Bros suit. The Hammer Bros were my favorite enemy from the original game, and the Hammer Bro Suit was like the holy grail of items. It was a “break only in case of emergency” kind of deal because I didn’t want to waste it. That shit was pure gold and I got excited every time I got one. I still think it’s the best power-up of any Mario game and am still personally offended it never came back in other games. And no, Mario just carrying a hammer in some RPGs does NOT count. It’s just not the same.

The other big memory was probably the same memory every child had playing this game: the fucking sun. That stupid angry-faced ball of gas was my absolute nemesis and I hated him with the fire of a thousand hims. Scared me half to death the first time I encountered him and my blood pressure still rises a bit thinking about him. And on the other end of the spectrum, Big Bertha scared the shit out of me too. A giant fish that eats you up in one gulp? NO THANK YOU.

Why It’s #51:

Super Mario Bros 3 coasts a lot on nostalgia. It was absolutely a formative game of my childhood and was one of the prime examples of awesome games that made me a platformer aficionado. The variety in power-up abilities is still unmatched (in my opinion) as Super Mario World shirked variety for a few specific ones and also got rid of the storage. While I know Nintendo doesn’t like to retread often, I wish they would drink from the Super Mario Bros 3 well a little more often: the New Super Mario Bros games almost got there but were missing the magic. A true SMB3 successor on modern consoles could be a game-changer.